Last Wednesday’s episode of “Survivor 41” saw one of the season’s most strategic players get blindsided. In light of the dramatic elimination, fans have taken to social media to share their love both for the intense episode itself, as well as Shan Smith, now the fourth member of the jury.
Shan Has Been Seen As a Strategic Mastermind
Shan, a Canadian-born pastor who now resides in Washington, D.C., according to her CBS bio, grew to become the dominant strategic player among the majority “Black alliance,” being the pivotal player in the blindsides of contestants such as Brad Reese, JD Robinson, and Naseer Muttalif.
Shan’s strategic power play received a mixed reception from fans during her time on the show. On the one hand, she was criticized for making “boneheaded moves” such as in episode 6 when she outed Liana’s “Knowledge Is Power” advantage in front of Tiffany, or calling for a meeting of her alliance in front of players who weren’t in that alliance.
Others have criticized her for being a “terrible villain,” whose emotions and hypocrisy go too far, as well as for being patronizing. One popular thread after episode 10 said of the pastor, “The way Shan talks to everyone drives me crazy. She is so patronizing. And it seems like she actually believes she’s a good listener! Does she talk to her parishioners that way?” One commenter said, “she gave a dismissive and rude fake listening tone that isn’t going to serve her well in the next few weeks.” Another added that she was “problematic.”
On the other hand, however, Shan has also received praise from fans for being an “actual human” playing a strategic game without compromising her emotional integrity, with many defending her from the “hate” she has received from the fanbase.
Episode 11 Received Heaps of Praise
Last week’s episode led to extensive acclaim from fans, with numerous fans praising the episode overall as one of the “greatest of of all time.” Fans seemed to love the character dynamics between the majority Black alliance, as well as Shan’s ally Ricard Foyé, with one popular post highlighting the numerous instances of social dynamics trumping strategic play in the one episode alone. “I really wish the show would do more episodes like this,” the post said. “It felt like the whole season was building towards this elimination. They didn’t even try to hide it, just focused the dynamics of a blindside. It speaks to the storytelling ability of reality television.”
Another post blew up on the show’s subreddit recently, declaring the Ricard-Shan relationship “ONE OF THE BEST EDITED ARCS EVER ON THIS SHOW.” One user commenting, “it was perfection!!! [Shan] and [Ricard] sharing the “we’ve never said final 2″ and the loyalty bleeding within and among alliances. even though [Shan] stuck her neck out to give [Ricard] a chance, he knew as long as she lived in the game he was a target. gut wrenching.” Another user called the edit “f***ing Shakespearean.”
Fans, Former Contestants, and Winners Express Their Love For Shan
The outcome of episode 11 also saw Shan herself receive an outpouring of love. Shan’s elimination prompted a viral “Shan appreciation post” on Reddit, in which fans had an opportunity to express their admiration for “an absolutely incredible character, a fantastic casting choice and a strong, active player who didn’t watch the game as it passed by,” as the post described her. Another popular comment called her a “dynamic, one-of-a-kind player,” and said they shivered when she told Ricard it was not yet their time to take each other out. Another user conversely described her as a villain they love to hate, saying, “I was rooting against Shan all season and I can’t wait to have her back so I can do it again. Top tier villain.”
Shan, who has multiple sclerosis, has also been recognized for her disability. One popular user, who also has MS, praised her for competing on the show in a post after episode 4. “I’m amazed seeing Shan and Ricard repping the disabled community,” one comment added, referring to Ricard’s hearing loss. “Glad they’re there.”
After her elimination, Shan made a post on Instagram in which she revealed her fears of how MS might affect her on the island, and expressed her gratitude for getting to be on the show. Fans and previous contestants responded to the post with an outpouring of love and support, with four-time contestant and “Survivor” legend Cirie Fields responding, “Proud of you lady‼️🙏🏾❤️” Season 33, “Millennials vs. Gen X” winner Adam Klein said, “You played an incredible game and really were a star throughout the whole season. It was such a pleasure to watch you play.”
Ron Clark of season 38, “Edge of Extinction,” replied, “So proud of you!!! You breathed life into Survivor! 👏👏👏👏”
Wendell Holland, winner of season 36, “Ghost Island,” who previously commented on a posting about Deshawn Radden, expressing his support for the players of color, told Shan, “You made us proud. Thank you for being you, playing hard, and leaving it all out there.” Lauren Beck, the fourth-place finisher on season 39, “Island of the Idols,” exclaimed, “SHES AN ICON, A LEGEND, AND SHE IS THE MOMENT NOW.”
Be sure to catch the final three episodes “Survivor 41” Wednesdays at 8 p.m. Eastern time on CBS. The season finale airs December 15.